“No need at all. A letter from me to the Municipality, and the Municipality will confirm you at once. No need to move from here. In a fortnight at most the thing can be accomplished. It is settled, then?”
Andre-Louis considered yet a moment. There was his academy. But he could make arrangements with Le Duc and Galoche to carry it on for him whilst himself directing and advising. Le Duc, after all, was become a thoroughly efficient master, and he was a trustworthy fellow. At need a third assistant could be engaged.
“Be it so,” he said at last.
Le Chapelier clasped hands with him and became congratulatorily voluble, until interrupted by the red-coated giant at the door.
“What exactly does it mean to our business, anyway?” he asked. “Does it mean that when you are a representative you will not scruple to skewer M. le Marquis?”
“If M. le Marquis should offer himself to be skewered, as he no doubt will.”
“I perceive the distinction,” said M. Danton, and sneered. “You’ve an ingenious mind.” He turned to Le Chapelier. “What did you say he was to begin with — a lawyer, wasn’t it?”
“Yes, I was a lawyer, and afterwards a mountebank.”
“And this is the result!”
“As you say. And do you know that we are after all not so dissimilar, you and I?”
“Once like you I went about inciting other people to go and kill the man I wanted dead. You’ll say I was a coward, of course.”
Le Chapelier prepared to slip between them as the clouds gathered on the giant’s brow. Then these were dispelled again, and the great laugh vibrated through the long room.
“You’ve touched me for the second time, and in the same place. Oh, you can fence, my lad. We should be friends. Rue des Cordeliers is my address. Any — scoundrel will tell you where Danton lodges. Desmoulins lives underneath. Come and visit us one evening. There’s always a bottle for a friend.”
After an absence of rather more than a week, M. le Marquis de La Tour d’Azyr was back in his place on the Cote Droit of the National Assembly. Properly speaking, we should already at this date allude to him as the ci-devant Marquis de La Tour d’Azyr, for the time was September of 1790, two months after the passing — on the motion of that downright Breton leveller, Le Chapelier — of the decree that nobility should no more be hereditary than infamy; that just as the brand of the gallows must not defile the possibly worthy descendants of one who had been convicted of evil, neither should the blazon advertising achievement glorify the possibly unworthy descendants of one who had proved himself good. And so the decree had been passed abolishing hereditary nobility and consigning family escutcheons to the rubbish-heap